Surestream Petroleum Company, the British firm that is entangled in an oil exploration controversy on Lake Malawi, has responded to remarks made by President Joyce Banda about the company, saying they are ready for investigations into how their licence was obtained.

Surestream Petroleum Malawi General Manager Keith Robinson told The Business Times on Monday that as far as the company was concerned; their licence was clean as it was obtained following all the required procedures.

“Regardless of unfounded allegations, the facts cannot be denied, the process was valid and open, fully documented at the time and has already passed a review by the current minister,” Robinson said.

He said Surestream Petroleum met all the requirements put in place for companies interested in oil explorations which included submission of lengthy documentation to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

He said following the submission of their application, the Ministry of Energy and Mines appointed an evaluation board consisting of officials from within its ranks and other ministries and government departments who thoroughly reviewed their application.

“All the processes were recorded and documented fully. After reviewing all submissions, the board made formal detailed and fully supported recommendations to the minister,” he said.

He said the minister also carried out a review of the board’s recommendations which were then submitted to State House for further review and consent.

“Once again, the State House reviewed and supported the original recommendations and were satisfied that the correct procedures were followed,” he said.

Robinson said Surestream welcomed the three level process as it demonstrated the fairness of the procedures Malawi had in place.

He said if any of the levels had noted discrepancies during the process, the application could have been reviewed at the time and another independent evaluation would have taken place by the new minister responsible.

Director of Mines in the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources Charles Kaphwiyo said the ministry would only comment once the objectives of the investigation are made clear to the technocrats at the ministry.

Surestream’s oil exploration licence has come under the spotlight following protests from Tanzania that the company was flying and landing its planes on its territory without authority.

President Banda told a press conference on Sunday that investigations would be instituted into how Surestream Petroleum obtained the oil exploration license.

She said she was not aware how the process of awarding two four year licenses to Surestream Petroleum was undertaken.

“This issue should be investigated further because nobody knows what happened. Did they bid? We would want know how it was evaluated because there are media reports that corruption and bribery took place but we don’t know the actual facts,” Banda said.

Last month, our sister paper Malawi News revealed that a middleman was demanding K64 million from Surestream Petroleum for facilitating safe motherhood programmes for the former First Lady Callista Mutharika to gain access to the late president Bingu wa Mutharika who had the final say on which company would be awarded the license.

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